Veterans Day

Tomorrow is Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day. A day that came into existence by a proclamation from President Wilson in 1919 and became law in May 1938.

President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

There’s something to be said about a uniform. When you step into your first set of BDUs (Battle Dress Uniform) — the feel and weight of the fabric. It’s like pulling on a new person.

It makes you stand taller, it makes you feel confident in everything you do, it makes you proud.

No matter when you stepped into your first uniform, regardless of branch, regardless of rank, you are forever changed. You are forever a member of a unique family.

I served along side other patriotic souls as we served our country. I’ve been stationed in several countries world wide, in times of peace and in times of war. It wasn’t always easy to serve, it wasn’t always easy to follow orders, but I like to think I went above and beyond the call of duty to complete the objectives as given to me.

  Rist, Richard (Hollywood, FL) 1-31


When I was in the service it wasn’t as recognized by civilians as it is today. Now people thank those in uniform for their service. I always smile and stand a little taller, when I hear someone thanking a person in uniform as I walk through the airport. I am  proud that 11/11 is recognized wide and far.

Once you raise your hand and take the oath, once you go through the training, once you don your first set of BDU’s and step out onto foreign soil, you are part of a

family forever more. I am honor to be part of that family — I am proud to have served my country and defended our freedom.

I am humbled and speechless to my brothers and sisters who never returned from battle. For the families that paid the ultimate sacrifice  to defend my country.

Thank you to all that have served, to all that are serving, and to all who will serve.

Aim High!!

Two US Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcons conducting tactical training exercises. (Department of Defense/Jacob N. Bailey, US Air Force)

Two US Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcons conducting tactical training exercises. (Department of Defense/Jacob N. Bailey, US Air Force)


Flash Backs

Memories are a funny thing. They are ever present or lost in the web of neurons. They come back quickly and in some cases, unexpectedly after years of being forgotten.

I was in the military when I met a airman who impacted my immediate future. I had come to admire her, her strength, her courage, her. She was strong and full of conviction of doing the right thing at all times, even when it was difficult. On the eve of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” she showed me how to honor yourself and be who you are.

I don’t remember her past any more, but I do remember a couple important pieces. Like the permanent scar on the side of her face courtesy of a bar fight prior to entering the military. I have the impression after all these years that her life was rather difficult prior to entering the Air Force, although the details of her past, were never known to me — or maybe just forgotten amoung all the other memories and facts cluttering the gray matter.

A-10 Warthog Alconbury England

She made me laugh, she talked me through some painful events, and unbeknownst to me at the time, helped me come into my own.

I haven’t thought about her for more than 20 years. She came crashing into my thoughts as I watched a woman in the crowd having a good time, laughing and dancing with her friends. In the blink of an eye, I was slammed back into the military talking to my friend. Sitting in camp chairs drinking cheap beer and wondering what the rest of our lives would bring us.

I don’t know how or why this dancing woman brought my friend back to me; the similarities of the way she looked or dressed or maybe it was the carefree laughing with her friends, but it left me feeling odd and unnerved for the next couple of days. Thoughts of our time in the military floated in and out of my mind at unexpected moments: playing softball, or hunkered down in the vault culling through military reports. Deep dark discussions about life, the military, and the war we were supporting, but didn’t necessarily agree with.

We had toured England together along with our friends. Driving the back roads in the cover of darkness or finding London night clubs in our down time.  She taught me how to play darts, which I still am bad at, in local pubs. We hung out together on tarmacs at day break in a hurry up and wait mode before deploying to the desert. My first adult friendship.

Back then, there were no easy ways to stay in touch. Pen and paper or corded wall phones were the only ways to communicate long distance and it was difficult to find time when working rotating shifts and deploying to combat zones, and eventually leaving the military.

We knew each other when it was safe for a brief moment in time.

I don’t know why she came to mind. Why now? What makes me think of a long lost military friend after all this time?

I wonder what happened to her. A few years after my discharge I heard a rumor that she had passed away due to a brain tumor. I would like to think it was not true, that is was just a rumor. Her life would have been too short. She was a beautiful person and the world is less bright without her in it.

Memories — they have a timeline of their own. I do still wonder, why those memories choose to come to the surface after all this time and I wonder where she is now.